Growth at all costs.
That’s the mantra a former Uber security expert pointed to in trying to explain why the ride-hailing company, based in San Francisco, played so loose with sensitive data and personal information.
That voracious, damn-the-consequences pursuit of growth created the gargantuan Uber we know: omnipresent and valued at around $70 billion. But the costs amassed too, and finally cost CEO and founder Travis Kalanick his job.
Amid the cascade of Uber scandals, it’s hard to keep track of them all. Little ones get lost – like the time, last year, when a federal judge berated Uber for using unlicensed private investigators to fraudulently dig up dirt on a conservationist who had sued the company.
To help keep track of the mess, here’s a timeline of Uber’s more recent troubles.
Dec. 12, 2016: Uber failed to prevent employees from inappropriately accessing the personal information of customers, former security professionals told Reveal. A former forensic investigator said some Uber employees even used trip data to track celebrities and help men stalk their ex-girlfriends.
Jan. 19, 2017: Uber agreed to pay $20 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it misled drivers by exaggerating the amount of money they would make.
Feb. 2: Kalanick stepped down from President Donald Trump’s economic advisory council after a #DeleteUber boycott campaign.
Feb. 19: Susan Fowler published an explosive blog post about her year at Uber, detailing a culture of sexism and sexual harassment, impunity for “high performers” and a human resources department that didn’t care. It sparked an outcry, led more women to come forward and prompted Kalanick to order an internal investigation led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
Feb. 23: Google-spinoff Waymo sued Uber for stealing its self-driving car technology. A judge later recommended that federal prosecutors investigate. Uber recently fired the engineer at the heart of the controversy.
Feb. 27: Uber forced out an executive after Recode found he had left Google due to a “credible” sexual harassment complaint.
Feb. 28: Bloomberg published a video of Kalanick yelling at his Uber driver, saying, “Some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own shit.” He later said he was ashamed of his conduct.
March 3: The New York Times revealed that Uber used a tool called Greyball to identify and evade law enforcement and other officials in cities where the company was under government scrutiny. The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the practice.
May 18: Reveal reported that an Uber employee said he was fired after sticking up for female colleagues facing sexual harassment.
June 6: Uber fired 20 employees after a company-wide investigation into harassment, discrimination and other complaints. Some 57 complaints are still being investigated.
June 7: Recode reported that an Uber executive had obtained the medical records of a woman in India who was raped by an Uber driver – and shared the records with Kalanick and others, raising questions about the woman’s account. After Recode contacted the company, Uber said the executive had been fired.
June 13: Uber announced it would reorganize the company based on the recommendations of Holder’s report on sexual harassment. During the announcement to employees, board member David Bonderman remarked that adding women to the board would result in “more talking.” Bonderman later apologized and resigned.
June 21: Under pressure from major investors, Kalanick stepped down. He will stay on Uber’s board.
Will Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @willCIR.